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Brothers In Arms On Disney Ship?


This is about two brothers, born 13 months apart in the ’70s. 

The elder of the two became an advocate of Star Wars. Actually, advocacy is too weak a word. He became a Star Wars fanatic, to the point that to this day he still buys light sabers. Invite him to a masquerade party and he’ll find a Darth Vader costume.

The younger of the two went a slightly different direction, as brothers so close in age are wont to do. His passion became Disney…anything Disney. He grew up wishing upon stars, and even got a job at Disney World. There, he met his wife-to-be.

Despite their fanatical differences, today they are as close as two brothers living 1,500 miles apart can be. Next year, however, they may become even closer.

image001Star Wars is going on a Disney cruise.

Maybe they will, too.

When the Disney Dream emerges from dry-dock in October, it will have a Star Wars-themed area added to its Oceaneer Club, including its own Millennium Falcon. It’s for kids 3 to 12, so the elder brother may have a little trouble sneaking in but, hey, he does have a light saber. The refurbished Dream’s first cruise will be October 26 from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas.

There’s another Star Wars option (and likely more in the planning stages)…

For at least eight sailing in the first four months of 2016, there will be a Star Wars Day At Sea on the Disney Fantasy, during a one-week cruise to the Western Caribbean. Passengers will have the opportunity to experience The Force in a galaxy far far away, to meet characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Darth himself, to participate in Stars Wars activities and to watch the only at-sea screenings of Episode VII. If you don’t known what Episode VII is, then you also don’t know anybody with December 18 blocked off on their movie calendars to be among the millions planning to watch the first on-land screening of what is this year’s most-anticipated big-screen event.

For the elder brother, the magnet at sea is Star Wars. For the younger…Disney Dream…Disney Fantasy…Disney anything.

Big Brother has an added incentive: He never did forgive his parents for selling his Millennium Falcon in a garage sale.

Today at portsandbows.com: The world's third-largest ship coming

Holland America Zaandam
17 nights
September 20, 2015
Vancouver, Honolulu, Nawiliwili, Lahaina, Kona, Hilo, San Diego
Inside: $1,899
Cost per day: $111

The Impact of Frozen and Friends

Frozen cruises. Now there’s an oxymoron. With the exception of adventurous expeditions to the Poles, cruises are generally for warm-weather people. Lie on the Disney ship-Frozendeck, swim in the pool, sit in the moonlight on the balcony. None of these things works on a “frozen cruise.”

Unless it’s Disney.

Everybody knows Frozen, the movie…while we did hear a movie critic claim she had never heard “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” Perhaps she doesn’t get out much. So okay, almost everybody has heard of Frozen…the movie, the music, the characters. To the surprise of no one, Frozen characters are going on Disney ships.

Anna and ElsaNo  dates yet, but one Florida travel agency is reporting that Princess Anna and Queen Elsa will be making appearances on three of Disney’s four ships: the Magic, the Wonder and the Fantasy. It will be on cruises to the Caribbean and — here’s another shocker — Alaska.

Disney, meanwhile, is reporting that for the first time it will be cruising to Scotland, Iceland and Norway, the animated “country” that was the movie’s set…and the impact Frozen Norwayon the real Norway has been nothing short of astounding. Disney is implementing guided tours called “A Full Frozen Package” that include fjord visits, trout fishing and a visit to Bergen. Since the movie’s release, traffic to the VisitNorway website has tripled, traffic is up 52 per cent on Norwegian Air Shuttle, searches for Norwegian flights are up 153 per cent and hotel bookings are up 37 per cent.

Frozenmania is widespread. We know people who like everything Frozen.

In a manner of speaking, that is.

Today at portsandbows.com: Copenhagen’s copious attractions

Carnival Splendor
7 nights
September 13, 2014
New York (return): Boston, Portland, Saint John, Halifax
Inside: $409
Cost per day: $58

Which Ships Are Best…And To Where?

Because they're so subjective, cruise ship awards and surveys can be construed as somewhat meaningless, not to mention redundant. Whose "best cruise ship carrying more than 3,000 passengers in the Caribbean on the third Saturdays of January" means the most. (Weak attempt at humor.)

So when Cruise Critic reveals its latest Cruisers' Choice Awards, as it did this week, you have to take it with a grain of salt…as our buddy Phil Reimer did at Ports and Bows by pointing out in today's blog there's a "caveat" at play here.

Having said all that, there's one category in the Cruise Critic awards that we hadn't seen before, which doesn't necessarily mean that it wasn't there.

Destination ships.

That's not which ships are destinations, as Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas — and no doubt their followers — are sometimes called. It's which ships are considered the best ones to take going to or from different parts of the cruising universe. Clever. Helpful even, for the first time cruisers who would like something — anything — to help them decide on which ship to sail to the Caribbean.

Rhapsody of the SeasGoing to Alaska?

Cruise Critic readers recommend Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas (right).


The Disney Dream.


Disney Fantasy.


Celebrity Silhouette.

Sailing from the Northeast?

Try Explorer of the Seas, from Bayonne, New Jersey.

Across the ocean out of England?

Celebrity Eclipse.

From Florida?

Disney's Fantasy, again.

From the West Coast?

Sapphire Princess.

Nobody says why these ships are the best ion category, of course, so if you buy into the thinking it's because so many people picked these ships.

Just remember one thing.

It is subjective.

Sapphire Princess
4 nights
March 19, 2014 
Los Angeles (return): Catalina IslandEnsenada
Inside: $329
Cost per day: $82

Family reunion right now for Disney ships


While it was conceived in California, the magical machine that is Disney belongs — essentially — to Florida. First it was the theme park that tilted east, with more people pouring into Disney World than Disneyland, the foundation that old Walt built almost six decades ago.

And for the last 15 years, the extension of the Disney empire has continued to lean to the east. Never is that more evident than right now.

All four Disney ships are currently based in Florida.

The last to return to the family breeding waters was the Wonder. After a summer sailing to Alaska, it stopped off in Galveston for a few months on the way home. There it will stay, in Miami, until heading north to Alaska again in the spring.

Meanwhile, the Magic has moved up the coast from Miami to Port Canaveral for a family reunion of sorts…or a vacation with her sisters Dream and Fantasy, which never leave home. The two newest ships in the fleet spend the entire year on mostly cruises from Port Canaveral to the Caribbean. They always stop at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island, to help the family financial fortunes.

Over the last seven years, the Magic has established a following by operating from her second home in the summers, Barcelona. Except for that and five Caribbean cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico, that's it.

In fact, from now until April 2015, we could only find 33 Disney cruises that did not embark somewhere in Florida. That's for all four ships and includes two repositioning cruises to bring the Wonder back from Alaska next year and the Magic back from Europe. If you calculate that ships operate 7-day cruises on average, that means 33 of approximately 260 cruises.

Or, 12 per cent.

Florida is Disney, and vice-versa.

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
February 15, 2014
Miami (return): St. MaartenSt. ThomasNassau
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85

Tea Party for Tots Turns into Disney's Royal Tea

News item: The Royal Court restaurant aboard the Disney Fantasy is getting graced with Disney Princess presences as Disney Cruise Line debuts a new character offering dubbed “Royal Tea.”

Last Sunday, one of our granddaughters celebrated her 2nd birthday. One of the gifts she unwrapped was a teapot, with cups. Instinctively, without a word of direction from her parents, she took it in hand and pretended to pour "tea" into one of the cups.

Is tea making a comeback?

A generation from now, maybe "High Tea" will be fashionable again, once all these little tea grannies have grown up to be tea princesses, because that's certainly what Disney is selling to its pre-teen clientele.

Royal TeaListen to this:

• Guests are greeted by Lady Chamomile, the Royal Tea Hostess

Chef Brule, the Royal Pastry Chef, presents — with his Lady — the young princes and princesses with tea sandwiches, pastries and cupcakes

• Then the two for them entertain by singing Disney songs and dancing Disney dances

• All of that is a prelude to the arrival of Cinderella, Belle and Tiara, the real Disney Princesses, to do meet-and-greets

As with authentic "High Tea" it's hardly a matter of dropping a teabag in the pot, waiting for it to steep and sipping it from your fine china (or your coffee cup). This is an event and, as an event, tickets go for $279 per couple. A couple is one adult and one child.

So if tea does make a comeback, not that it ever really went away, remember that it all starts with those little tea parties for little two-year-olds…and expect that the consumers will be happy to pay more for it than their forefathers.

Or even their grandparents.

Celebrity Constellation
5 nights
December 14, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Key WestCozumel
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $39

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